May 2024 Aurora Spectacular 5/10-11/24

Laura, Z, Grandma H and myself drove up to to the snow-free elevations of HWY 108 with high hopes of seeing the expected auroras caused by a massive G5 solar flare. Once we arrived at the cabin, we saw the KP Index numbers soar past 8 (on a scale of 9!) and we knew we'd be in business. I had scouted a spot near Bald Mountain that was composed of Mehrton Formation volcanic lahar that was like cement and thus had very few trees and a perfect view to the north. We ate a big dinner, packed the blankets and headed up the hill around 9:30 pm. Much to our surprise and amazed delight we could already SEE the aurora without the cameras. It wasn't quite as vibrant as through the lens, but it was still awe-inspiring. Just after 11:00pm the color just exploded and visible pillars were streaking across the northern horizon. We litterally gasped and exclaimed for nearly 30 minutes. We then headed up to Pinecrest Lake (I got greedy for reflections in a lake) and saw a much more read and purple sky that sometimes glowed green at the very bottom. It was the first time in all of our lives we'd seen the northern lights, and we didn't even have to go to Iceland or Alaska! What a perfect, perfect night.